Earlier this summer I visited Angel Stadium of Anaheim to watch the Los Angeles Angels face the Washington Nationals. It was a beautiful mid-July evening with a temperature in the low 80’s at the start time of 7:09 p.m. It was an epic battle that lasted a total of two hours and 57 minutes, which the Washington Nationals ended up winning 4-3.
There is really nothing more enjoyable than sitting in a Major League Baseball stadium on a summer night while watching two great teams fight for a W. The atmosphere surrounding a baseball stadium is unmatched. Truly, I’m not sure what makes an evening at a park so special. Maybe it’s the smell of the countless concessions, like the classic hotdogs being consumed. Maybe it’s the knowledge of the great depth of the history of the sport and knowing that some of these athletes will be the next “Greats” who will be written down in history. Maybe it’s the smell of the perfectly sculpted and shaped grass coming up from the field. Or the vision of the dirt coming off the future legend’s cleats as he rounds each base after hitting a dinger out of the park. Maybe it’s the fact that our major leagues attract the top talent from all nations, making the baseball field one of the most diverse places. The complexity and simplicity of baseball as a sport is something that only true fans can understand and appreciate. After all, it’s known as our national pastime for a reason.
For me, there’s really not much that can top that. So, I sit in my seat and try to take it all in. It was the bottom of the first and I hear a familiar song come on, one that I wouldn’t expect to hear from the loudspeakers. Albert Pujols was up to bat and the speakers started blasting “Blessings” by Lecrae (featuring Ty Dolla $ign). For those of you who are not familiar with Lecrae, he’s an American Christian hip-hop recording artist, songwriter, record producer and actor.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Furthermore, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. People were dancing along to the tune, bobbing their head and truly enjoying the excitement of Pujols coming up to bat. Many of the spectators may not have been familiar with Lecrae or his message, but they were exposed to it each time Pujols went up to bat. That night Albert Pujols had four at bats, which meant four times that Lecrae was booming over the loudspeaker at Angels Stadium. Four times that Jesus’ message was blasting over the loudspeaker for all in attendance to hear.
What a statement to be made.
On average, MLB parks hold about 40,000 people. That means that for every MLB player who uses their walk up song as a statement of their faith, they are exposing 40,000 people to the Lord through music. That night at Angels Stadium I was just one of 43,345 in attendance. Meaning that I was one of tens of thousands exposed to God through Albert Pujols and his choice of a walk up song.
This absolutely fascinated me and encouraged me to do more research about which professional baseball players use Christian music or musicians for their walk up songs. What I found was surprising and encouraging. I discovered that there are a variety of players who have used a wide range of Christian musicians for their walk up songs. There was everything from Christian Rap to progressive worship music to gospel choir music, and everything in between.
Ian Desmond (Colorado Rockies) has Trip Lee’s “One Sixteen,” which is another popular Christian Rap song. Yan Gomes (Cleveland Indians,) uses Trip Lee as well. Another popular Christian Rap song is “Joyful Noise” by Flame, which is used by Aaron Altherr (Philadelphia Phillies). Continuing with Christian rap, Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates,) Dee Gordon (Miami Marlins,) Daniel Nava (Philadelphia Phillies,) Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals,) Michael Taylor (Washington Nationals,) all use Lecrae.
Jeremy Camp provides the walkup soundtrack for J.J. Hoover (Arizona Diamondbacks,) Kelby Tomlinson (San Francisco Giants,) Daniel Murphy (Washington Nationals,) Craig Gentry (Baltimore Orioles,) Chase Headley (New York Yankees,) and Corey Dickerson (Tampa Bay Rays).
Crowder is the music for Chase Whitley (Tampa Bay Rays,) Matt Wieters (Washington Nationals,) and Chase Anderson (Milwaukee Brewers). Chris Tomlin provides music for Caleb Joseph (Baltimore Orioles). Continuing with classic Christian musicians, the Newsboys are used by Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies).
Progressive worship artists such as Jesus Culture and Passion are used by Brandon Nimmo (New York Mets.) Steven Matz (New York Mets) has the popular “Chain Breakers” song by Zach Williams. NeedToBreathe was also quite popular among MLB players, with Matt Holliday (New York Yankees,) Billy Burns (Kansas City Royals,) Cliff Pennington (Los Angeles Angels,) Stephen Drew (Washington Nationals,) Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies,) Tyler Moore (Miami Marlins) and J.T. Realmuto (Miami Marlins). Rajai Davis (Oakland A’s) walks up to gospel choir music by Kirk Franklin and Marvin Sapp.
Professional athletes have an incredibly unique and powerful platform to influence small children who look up to them, high school and collegiate athletes work to be like them, fellow athletes compete against them, and grown men and women admire them. It’s a platform that very few people are lucky enough to have. However, it’s what’s done with that platform that can be extraordinary. Many athletes outwardly profess their gratitude to the Lord for their influence or victory, but it can also be the small things, like honoring the Lord in a walkup song. A simple proclamation made each time they step up to bat, that’s what’s extraordinary to me.